Nasirun (1965)


Art Exhibition in The Oberoi, Bali
From May 28 to July 02, 2018.



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Nasirun occupies a place of his own in the Indonesian art world. When one first sees his paintings, one cannot be indifferent: here is an artist who has the rarest and most valued quality of all; he has a ʺworld of his ownʺ--shown in a feat of color a feast of color. The narrative is there, with the fantastic.

We intuitively sense there are symbols that come from the depth of Indonesian cultural memory; and at the same time, if not always obvious in the present exhibition, these same symbols come to us garbed with a new meaning. It is popular art revisited. Nasirun is a sort of Indonesian Chagall, with a yearning for simplicity framed in the complexity of colors and symbol.
Nasirun was born in 1965 in the Javanese town of Cilacap in Central Java and educated at the ISI Art Institute of Yogyakarta (Java). Cilacap was long ʺoutside” both the world of modernity and the world of Islamic rigor. His cultural memory –a fact increasingly rare in Java—is that of the wayang (puppet-show) world and its heroes from the pre-Islamic lore. Javanese wayang is a highly patterned form of art, with recognizable heroes engaged in a struggle for power or merging into the Ultimate One—what the Javanese call Manungalling Kawula-Gusti. Nasirun is obviously a bearer of that tradition, and sometimes criticized for it, by those post-modern critics who think that memory only be conceptual. While Nasirun’s memory is sometimes conceptual, reshaped to convey a statement regarding social issues from the contemporary world, it usually simply flows, reshaped not by the brain, but by the imagination—hence the Chagallian mood of some of his works.
Most of the paintings of the present exhibition deal with the notion of spiritual deliverance mentioned above. How to achieved Oneness with the godly in several works, and how to overcome the impediments toward this goal in other ones. The myth of tradition is revamped by the imaginary.
We must be aware that the kind of hybridism between tradition and modernity is bound to disappear in the next generations. Nasirun is giving new life to the myths and belief of yore, in a visual language still linked to the past. He is one of the last witnesses of a withering memory, a link between two worlds at odds the one with the other.


Jean Couteau Ph.D


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